Judge Grants MSJ for Defense on TCPA Violation, But Denies MSJ for FDCPA Violations Over Calls to Plaintiff

A District Court judge in Illinois partially denied summary judgment against a defendant that is being sued for allegedly violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by placing 20 calls during a two-month period in attempts to reach someone else.

A copy of the ruling in the case go Gailya Brown v. I.C. System, Inc., can be accessed by clicking here. The judge did grant summary judgment in favor of the defendant related to a claim it violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

The plaintiff received about 20 calls from the defendant seeking to reach two different individuals, neither of whom was the plaintiff. The plaintiff, who had been a victim of identity theft, did not know that public records connected her cell phone number to the two individuals that the defendant was trying to reach. On most of the calls placed by the defendant, the plaintiff hung up immediately without saying anything, but recalls speaking with a representative from the defendant on five different occasions, relaying that she was not the person the defendant was seeking to contact. On one occasion, according to the plaintiff, a representative of the defendant threatened to garnish the plaintiff’s wages if a payment was not made. According to records provided by the defendant, one of the calls placed to the plaintiff lasted 61 seconds.

The plaintiff sued, alleging the defendant violated Section 1692d, 1692e, and 1692f of the FDCPA. In all three instances, the judge denied the defendant’s motion for summary judgment.

The average number of calls per week, especially taking into consideration the 61-second phone call where the plaintiff could have conveyed she was not the person the defendant was looking for, could be taken as an attempt to annoy or harass the plaintiff, the judge ruled, in denying the summary judgment motion relative to the 1692d violation.

A claim from the defendant’s representative that the plaintiff’s wages could be garnished is a “potential” violation “according to the plain text” of the FDCPA, Judge Jorge Alonso ruled, in denying the summary judgment motion on the 1692e violation.

It’s possible that a jury could “conclude that, by way of harassment and false threats, defendant sought to collect from plaintiff a debt that it knew or should have known that she did not owe,” Judge Alonso wrote in denying the 1692f motion.

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